Last week I wrote about how I categorize the different types of prospective clients that call travel agents/advisors seeking help with their vacations.
I got many questions regarding each and every one. Some of the questions had to do with how soon a client can be categorized. There were also questions about prospective clients who come up with lots of questions and promises and then disappear. (As Scott Walters cleverly named them, “The Illusionists.”)
Since this is a Blog and not a “Dear Rosana” column, I will explain most of the questions but again, but feel free to reach out to me to discuss them even further.
First and foremost, to avoid “The Illusionists,” once a prospective client starts asking questions, I recommend answering only a few, and then send them a contract with your service fee. Travel agents/advisors are very busy now. More people are traveling than before, and they want a TA’s help. They are choosing not to venture out by themselves and make a mistake by booking their trips online. TA’s cannot waste time with prospective clients who can’t decide between taking a vacation or a trip to the zoo. Once a prospective client invests in your service fee, both parties are invested in the same purpose, which is to create a nice vacation.
In terms of the “controller,” who asks a lot of questions, some of TA’s prefer not to work with them at all, and others felt like they were dealing with a bully. My recommendation to TA’s is to first recognize that the prospective client is a controller by their tone of voice, their demands, and even their actions. For example, asking the same question by different methods, such as emails, texts and phone calls in a short time. Asking for an explanation of every bit of minutiae. Telling you that “others” in their party feel badly, or something else (hearsay). All of these are the red flags of a controller.
If you are using a mirror next to your phone or computer, you can see that the controller is affecting your gut and making you feel uncomfortable and pressured. If you are using the phone, tell this client that another call is coming in and you need to call him/her back. In the case that you are reading an email: STOP! Drink some water, take a deep breath and go for a walk if you can. With a controller, you have to turn the tables and use the skills I explained in my past blog. Set limits, tell them when YOU are going to contact them. Limit your time on the phone with them and use more emails. Do not explain every detail of what you do (doctors don’t explain every procedure – they deliver results!) You will deliver them a great trip. In the case of hearsay, don’t miss a beat – if someone has a problem with you, that person should reach out DIRECTLY to you. By acting this way, you’ll feel like you have control.In 95% of these cases, the client comes back happily and will recommend you to many of their friends.
Keep in mind though, when you follow up with ALL your clients after the vacation (client retention) wait a couple of weeks. For a couple of reasons:
1. Once they come back, they are overloaded by junk emails. You don’t want them to mistake your email as junk.
2. Even if your trip was perfect, sometimes the little kid sitting in the seat behind you on the last flight kept kicking your seat, or the last flight was delayed, or the Uber driver on the way home didn’t speak a word of English. These types of things will be in their minds for few days, until jet lag is gone, and all the great memories of the trip come back. THEN is the perfect time to hear a WELCOME BACK from you!
Always cheering from you!